Implementing the homepage and news redesigns

September 2019

As promised, in this second part of the website redesign story I’ll go over the technical details of the changes I made to the website.

Stack & frameworks

To get a sense of how the website’s built, here’s an overview of what I use to layout and serve its content.

It’s a simple setup. The entire site is statically generated by Jekyll and then served by Netlify. Bulma is a CSS framework that allows me to style templates quickly.


Let’s take a look at the homepage first. The list of apps is generated by including the app/overview.html template and assigning it a set of apps pages.

{% assign live = site.pages | where: 'layout', 'app/live' %}
{% assign announced = site.pages | where: 'layout', 'app/announced' %}
{% assign apps = announced | concat: live %}
{% include app/overview.html apps=apps %}

I fetch the apps to display by querying site.pages for pages that use the app/live and app/announced layout. Then I concatenate both arrays into a single apps variable and pass that to the includable app/overview.html template.

A screenshot of the homepage after the changes. It shows a compact row of boxes that represent all the apps.

Overview template

The app/overview.html template checks if it’s on the homepage (if page.layout == "home") and adds the Danger Cove logo accordingly.

{% if page.layout == "home" %}
<div class="column is-4-widescreen is-half-desktop is-full-tablet is-full-mobile">
  <div class="box is-shadowless has-text-centered">
    {% include logo/retro.html %}
    <h1 class="title is-size-2-mobile is-1 is-spaced">{{ page.title }}</h1>
    <h2 class="subtitle is-size-5-mobile is-4">{{ page.subtitle }}</h2>
{% endif %}

Then it loops over the provided apps and includes app/introduction.html for each. This is the actual visual representation of the app, in the form of a card. Pulling it out into a separate include makes it trivial to display the app card anywhere else. I’ll use it again when showing related apps with blog posts. More on that a little further down.

{% for app in apps %}
<div class="column is-4-widescreen is-half-desktop is-full-tablet is-full-mobile">
  {% include app/introduction.html app=app %}
{% endfor %}

Notice the convenient column CSS classes that Bulma provides. It’s trivial to scale the layout from mobile to widescreen devices.

Front matter

The app/introduction.html template pulls the title, subtitle, description and colors from the app’s front matter. This is what the front matter for Timeless looks like:

layout: app/announced
site_title: Don't get distracted by time
title: Timeless
subtitle: Reduce time anxiety
description: >-
  Get a more subtle sense of what time it is. Reducing time pressure and distraction.
date: 2018-07-18
icon: timeless-clock_512.png
  icon: timeless-clock_512.png
    r: 200
    g: 200
    b: 200
  - Specify several, customizable 'time segments'.
  - Indicates the current segment in the menu bar.
  - Display the actual time and date with a single click.
  - macOS
  - Productivity
topic: timeless
  interests: [2]
permalink: /timeless/

Every card shows a specific rainbow of colors in its bottom right corner. Storing this information in the page’s front matter allows me to pull it out in the template and apply per-app design details.

{% assign color = app.hero.dominant_color %}
<div class="box" style="background-image: linear-gradient(135deg,
transparent 80%,
rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.25) 80%,
rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.25) 85%,
rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.5) 85%,
rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.5) 90%,
rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.75) 90%,
rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.75) 95%,
transparent 95%)

It’s hard to get around using style="" for this loop. On the app’s landing pages I apply the colors to a generic CSS class that I can use in the template.

{% if page.hero.dominant_color %}
{% assign color = page.hero.dominant_color %}
  .hero-app {
    background: linear-gradient(35deg,
    transparent 60%,
    rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.25) 60%,
    rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.25) 70%,
    rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.5) 70%,
    rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 0.5) 80%,
    rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 1) 80%,
    rgba({{ color.r }}, {{ color.g }}, {{ color.b }}, 1) 90%,
    transparent 90%);

Setting class="hero-app" atomatically applies the rainbow background for each app.

News overview

Before: A screenshot of the news overview before the changes. It showed an endless list of post titles. After: A screenshot of the news overview after the changes. It's a paginated list of full articles. Ready to read.


Loading all posts on the /news page would be madness. The first step I took was to implement the jekyll-paginate-v2 plugin:

  1. Add gem "jekyll-paginate-v2" to Gemfile:
     group :jekyll_plugins do
       gem "jekyll-paginate-v2"
  2. Activate the plugin in _config.yml:
        - jekyll-paginate-v2
       enabled: true
       sort_reverse: true # Required in my setup to order posts from new to old 
       permalink: "/page/:num/"
  3. Add pagination settings to the news.markdown front matter:
       enabled: true
       per_page: 5

The pagination plugin is ready to be implemented in _layouts/news/home.html at this point. It comes down to two things:

  1. Replacing {% for post in site.posts %} with {% for post in paginator.posts %} in the template.
  2. Including the paginator controls somewhere on the page.

Full post content

I updated _includes/post/preview.html to show the entire post instead of just a preview. That’s it.

A screenshot of the Timeless 'card' shown under an article about Timeless.

This new feature uses some front matter magic to allow me to pull in related content with a blog post. Consider the _includes/post/related.html template:

{% assign tags = include.tags %}

{% for tag in tags %}
{% assign app = site.pages | where: 'topic', tag | first %}
{% if app %}
{% include app/introduction.html app=app %}
{% endif %}
{% endfor %}

Usage: {% include post/related.html tags=post.tags %}

It loops through all tags assigned to a post and then searches site.pages for a page that has a topic that matches the tag.

Imagine I write a post about Timeless and tag it like this:

tags: [updates, timeless]

If you look in the front matter for Timeless above, you’ll notice its topic:

topic: timeless

The app variable gets assigned and the app/introduction.html card template gets included. If the tags include multiple apps, each is shown.


The full source code for this website is available on GitHub. For a comprehensive list of all changes made for this redesign, take a look at this diff: 3493aae..4518428

I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at how I keep up-to-date. If you have any feedback, questions or comments let me know on Twitter.